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Tony Covey MGS

Head to Head Testing - We Need Your Help

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Given the largely positive response to our head to head fairway test, GolfSpy X and I have been plotting the next big head to head adventure.

 

The logical choice this time around would seem to be drivers (it's what you guys have asked for), and that's certainly where we're looking.

 

We've compiled an initial list of companies we're considering for inclusion. We're probably going to whittle it down a bit, but the goal is to be more inclusive and a little more robust in how we test.

 

We've put a tremendous amount of thought into specifications, and how we're going to handle things like Pro/Tour models. While nothing will satisfy every reader, we're comfortable with the choices we've made.

 

The last remaining internal debate we're having internally is how to handle what we're calling the "shaft problem".

 

We don't think it's realistic to do an in-person fitting for each of our testers (not when we anticipate including 12-20 drivers in the test).

 

From our perspective that leaves us with 3 potentially viable options. We're very aware that each scenario has its own caveats (some more than others). Our goal is to create as much of an apples to apples comparison as we possibly can while (hopefully) avoiding a situation where one of our testers is very clearly poorly fit for a given club.

 

We'd be curious to know which of the options below would be the most appealing to each of you, and if you had any additional thoughts on what the best solution to the shaft problem might be.

 

1. Test with stock shafts across the board.

 

2. Do what we did with the fairway wood review; give each OEM an opportunity to do a best guess fitting based on previous collected launch data.

 

3. Choose a shaft that generally works well for a given tester and test all drivers with that shaft (in all likelihood a different shaft for each of our testers).

 

What do you guys think?

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So do you want the tests at the end of the day based on off the rack as intended for the general consumer or how good their custom departments are?

 

Might be easiest to go with option 3

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#2 is your best option of those choices IMO. The main reason is you have to stay within what is offered by the OEM to really be applicable to a vast majority of golfers.

 

Would the OEMs be willing to send multiple shafts with one head for some adjustable drivers? Then testers can pick and choose which is best.

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Obviously this is a tough dilemma .. I'd be fine with either 1 or 3, 1 providing the best example for off the shelf clubs (which, lets face it, constitutes the majority of golfers), or 3 in which case the shaft could be an upgrade but would be held constant thus emphasizing each driver head.

 

^Just my thoughts...

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#2 is your best option of those choices IMO. The main reason is you have to stay within what is offered by the OEM to really be applicable to a vast majority of golfers.

 

Would the OEMs be willing to send multiple shafts with one head for some adjustable drivers? Then testers can pick and choose which is best.

 

Thanks for presenting the first good opportunity to discuss one of the caveats.

 

The biggest issue (in my mind anyway) with option 2 is that without imposing limits, it gives a further fitting advantage to the guys with adjustable drivers. They could theoretically send us 1 head and half a dozen shafts to try...even per tester. The glued hosel guys would be looking at 4 or 5 complete drivers per golfer to cover the same range. It's not really feasible. If we capped it at 2, maybe, but even that would stretch the limits of what the smaller companies could handle.

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Thanks for presenting the first good opportunity to discuss one of the caveats.

 

The biggest issue (in my mind anyway) with option 2 is that without imposing limits, it gives a further fitting advantage to the guys with adjustable drivers. They could theoretically send us 1 head and half a dozen shafts to try...even per tester. The glued hosel guys would be looking at 4 or 5 complete drivers per golfer to cover the same range. It's not really feasible. If we capped it at 2, maybe, but even that would stretch the limits of what the smaller companies could handle.

 

Maybe only test adjustable drivers? :)

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Obviously this is a tough dilemma .. I'd be fine with either 1 or 3, 1 providing the best example for off the shelf clubs (which, lets face it, constitutes the majority of golfers), or 3 in which case the shaft could be an upgrade but would be held constant thus emphasizing each driver head.

 

^Just my thoughts...

 

Yeah... No scenario short of having every company custom fit each of our testers comes close to touching perfect.

 

There are a few OEMs that we've discussed our testing with in the past, and we bounce ideas off some of them from time to time. I've basically sent the contents of my original post here to a few of those companies to see what their preferences will be. Those guys deal with these questions day in and day out, and quite frankly; if somehow we receive a consensus opinion from those guys, that's almost certainly what we'll go with.

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Without a doubt, Option #3. Each individual tester really needs to use the same shaft for every head. There is no need to introduce another variable in your testing. Otherwise, you will always be left questioning "was it the shaft......or the head?"

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Maybe only test adjustable drivers? :)

 

Ha...floated that briefly too, but there are too many good ones out there that still rely on glue and glue alone. You guys have told us you want smaller companies involved...going 100% adjustable would eliminate most of them.

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Without a doubt, Option #3. Each individual tester really needs to use the same shaft for every head. There is no need to introduce another variable in your testing. Otherwise, you will always be left questioning "was it the shaft......or the head?"

 

 

 

Good Point. #3 is starting to win me over.

 

Would you install the shafts T? or would the OEM's/smaller companies do it... (just wondering about access)

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Good Point. #3 is starting to win me over.

 

Would you install the shafts T? or would the OEM's/smaller companies do it... (just wondering about access)

 

We'd ask the OEMs to provide the shafts (although we'd probably have a backup plan if we needed one). That's certainly one of the hurdles.

 

One of the caveats with #3 is that when it comes to fitting; changing one variable changes all the others. Basically, while a shaft may have certain characteristics, those characteristics could be amplified in one head, and muted in another.

 

That said...at this point, I think it's my favorite option right now. It gets us closer to a true apples to apples.

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WD has a good point about number 2 in that sticking with the OEM options are what most guys will be getting.

 

However, if the testers have current drivers with shafts they know work for them, having each tester set up with the same lofts and shafts they currently use would give them a better comparison. If a tester uses different shafts, how much of the differences between clubs is the head and how much is the shaft? No way to know. No. 3 will give solid results about the drivers by taking the shaft variables out.

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This is a tough one as I see merit in each one. But for a true comparison of how a driver head performs I think each tester needs to use the same shaft (that is fit for them) in every head. That said I like option 3 the best.

 

The only question I really have is who provides the shafts then? Will the testers get fit in a specific driver and then use that shaft for all of them? Do they need to bring their own favorite shaft? Aside from TMaG it seems like you would then be swapping that shaft 12-20 times for each tester. Do you really want to reshaft a club that many times, and each tester will only be able to test one club per day then if you have to wait for the glue to dry every time.

 

Maybe I'm missing something, but it seems like if Tester A uses the same shaft in each driver it is going to add A LOT of club work for you guys. Don't get me wrong, I think that is the way to go, but do you want to start down that road?

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I think we'd want to stear clear of using the exact same shaft. I think same make/model will be close enough.

 

When you consider things like changing tips and hosel bore depths it's impossible to reuse the same shaft in every head, especially if one of our goals is to test all drivers at the same length.

 

A shaft cut to play 45.5" in a Callaway might only play to 44.25" in another driver.

 

At some point practicality dictates we call it close enough.

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1, because most golfers don't care about fitting and aren't you trying to appeal to most golfers, or the small small population that does care and has hit all these drivers themselves anyway?

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It has to be option 2 for consistency from what we as consumers would purchase from an OEM. The reality is that most people purchase a driver with the OEM supplied shaft with flex as the only variable and maybe have the shaft trimmed afterwards to suit there individual requirements.

 

Unless of course you are going to include the new KRANK Element in your test, who give you 3 shafts to choose from and will supply a custom fit for length and flex.

 

I would be very interested (even though I have already ordered mine) to see the KRANK alongside all the others.

 

AJ

 

P.S. Yes I am a fan of KRANK products!!

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#1 is certainly simple, and sadly does represent how most golfers buy clubs.

 

The caveats here are that some of the companies we're considering including don't offer 'stock' shafts.

 

We're also big advocates for custom fitting. To an extent, #1 feels like we'd be turning our back on that.

 

When we've discussed this in the past; when it comes to head to head, most OEMs we've spoken with state a preference for custom.

 

Finally, when it comes to stock, it's less apples to apples and more apples to monkeys. You can find both in trees, but after that there's not much in the way of commonality.

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It has to be option 2 for consistency from what we as consumers would purchase from an OEM. The reality is that most people purchase a driver with the OEM supplied shaft with flex as the only variable and maybe have the shaft trimmed afterwards to suit there individual requirements.

 

Unless of course you are going to include the new KRANK Element in your test, who give you 3 shafts to choose from and will supply a custom fit for length and flex.

 

I would be very interested (even though I have already ordered mine) to see the KRANK alongside all the others.

 

AJ

 

P.S. Yes I am a fan of KRANK products!!

 

Not a single product request has been sent, but it's highly probable the new Krank Element will be part of the test.

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At this point don't you know the testers well enough to fit them with equipment from each OEM T?

 

I'd say have the adjustables tuned to the way you'd fit them and have the clubs sent with the appropriate shafts that you'd fit them for - not perfect but probably a better than average fit and at least a somewhat reasonable apples to apples.

 

Number 1 works if you generalize - that would be very interesting because that's how most people purchase their drivers - Let the guys tell you what they want - S shaft, 45.5 inches and order that for that them in each model.

 

I like either method or perhaps more interestingly both - get two drivers of each brand for each golfer - their choice and your recommendation -

 

That might kill two birds with one stone so to speak.

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The problem with #3 is the same shaft in different heads can give you totally different results. You're going to be biased towards one type of head before you even begin.

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